Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: May 2003 Archives

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May 31, 2003

The Texas Grand Jury investigation

The Austin American-Statesman reports

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle predicted Friday that the grand jury investigation into the destruction of documents by the Texas Department of Public Safety will wrap up next week without calling any elected officials to testify.

Earle also said (as reported in the Dallas Morning News) that the grand jury is investigating the destruction of documents only, not the call from DPS to Homeland Security.

May 30, 2003

What's wrong with American democracy?

Steven Hill and Rob Richie of the Center for Voting and Democracy have a piece on the American Prospect website cataloging the problems that plague our voting system. They conclude,

It's time for a representative democracy where every vote is counted and every vote counts. It's time for serious candidates to proclaim a real democracy agenda, and for serious reformers to develop a strategy for building a broad and enduring movement. Citizens across the political spectrum must join to create a democracy that not only works for all Americans but also is a shining beacon worthy of export to the rest of the world.

Is there a campaign finance problem in DC?

The Washington Post reports today that the Inspector General is claiming that the Office of Campaign Finance has botched an investigation of council elections. The OCF says, we haven't finished the audit (going on nearly 18 months), so how can you say we haven't done our job. Council members point out that the IG is probably mad because he will have to leave his job this weekend because of a new law that changes the qualifications for the job.

Read the story, and see if you can figure out who is telling the truth.

NYC districts get Section 5 preclearance

Newsday reports that the Justice Department has precleared the New York City council redistricting.

Texas Grand Jury calls DPS lawyer

The San Antonio Express-News reports today:

The Texas Department of Public Safety's chief counsel testified Thursday before a Travis County grand jury investigating the order for rapid destruction of DPS officers' notes in their search for AWOL legislators.

May 29, 2003

California Recall Effort Gets Serious

Bubbling softly in the background has been a recall petition against Gov. Gray Davis of California. The drive picked up some steam (to mix my metaphors) recently when Cong. Darrell Issa started raising money (including making a $445,000 contribution) to Rescue California, the group running the recall campaign, according to the Modesto Bee. The same story tells of a group forming to oppose the recall effort.

The Los Angeles Times had a story today that an ally of Davis is complaining to the FEC that Issa broke the Federal Election Campaign Act by collecting contributions for Rescue California.

Rick Hasen (who first called the LA Times story to our attention) asked on his blog whether this was really a violation of the FECA. I think that it is. Take a look at the post I had a month ago about the comments to the request by Cong. Jeff Flake regarding his involvement with a state initiate campaign.

Remember that the BCRA (2 USC § 441i(e))prohibits a federal candidate or office holder or an organization financed by the same to solicit funds in excess of the FECA limits or from people prohibited by FECA from contributing.

Mississippi judicial probe

The Sun Herald reports today, "A South Mississippi FBI agent was taken off an investigation into judicial corruption after he questioned a wealthy lawyer's connections to state Attorney General Mike Moore and U.S. Sen. Trent Lott." As the old jokes says, he had quit preachin' and gone to meddlin'.

One of the principals in the investigation, Paul Minor, was the subject of an unrelated decision by the en banc Fifth Circuit today. The Court affirmed a district court order sanctioning Minor for attempting to levy on a judgment by seizing cash from a K Mart -- after calling the media and making some pretty nasty statements against K Mart. The decision is here. (Thanks to How Appealing for the link.

Texas: Lots of Hound Dogs

OK, let's say you're the Attorney General and in the same party of a bunch of folks accused of some political crime. What do you do? If you said, investigate the people making the charges, you would be right.

Texas AG Greg Abbott is trying to force Rep. Lon Burnam to reveal his source in the Department of Public Safety who told him that higher-ups in the DPS had ordered the shredding of the documents about the hunt for the Killer D's. Burnam, D-Fort Worth, charged that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office "is apparently trying to find out who a whistle-blower is rather than stopping the illegal shredding of documents." See the article in the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. Burnham promises to reveal all at a deposition on Monday, as he was ordered to do by a state judge.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Homeland Security Department is within days of wrapping its investigation into the possible misuse of its resources in the hunt for the Killer D's, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Praise for the Killer D's

Robert Jensen says, "Feisty Texans a Model For Democratic Party". He concludes:

Although I think the current two-party system is killing real democracy, I don't mind offering the Democrats a bit of free advice: If you want to be something more than Karl Rove's doormat, keep more of an eye on Texas in the coming months than on the polls. Taking risks might prove to be politically effective. And even if it doesn't win votes in the short term, it will win back some self-respect.

Why I left Blogger for Movable Type

I started my blog on 4 July of last year and Blogger served me well as a set of "training wheels." Over the past few months I have had more and more problems with it and finally decided to make the move to another system. There would be times when my blog was slow to open, when I could not get into the Blogger tool to add a new post (strangely, I found that the w.bloggar program could post to Blogspot when Blogger would not open), and Blogger repeatedly lost my archives. I think all of this was rooted in the use of shared server space to host my blog and everyone else's. For instance, as I write this, I have just been trying to look at several other * blogs. Two were completely unavailable, and two were extremely slow in loading.

In contrast, when I use Movable Type, I can put my blog on any server I want. I used the same company that hosts my main website, Earthlink. I have plenty of space on the Earthlink server left over from my website, so I probably have some time before I have to think about upgrading my level of service with them. I have been pleased with the service at Earthlink.

In addition, MT has several features that I could not easily get on Blogger -- I would have to use an add-on program: comments, pinging, trackback, and categories. MT does require some work from the user. To change the template requires some level of coding ability, but I understand that the MT folks are working on a new program called TypePad.

More to come on the Killer D's

Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report has the following on its public website (but the complete story is available only to subscribers):

May 28, 2003 5:17 PM

Will say more on Friday but disputes Governor's office claims

The saga of the DPS investigation into the Killer D’s run for Ardmore shows no signs of abating.

Rep. Kevin Bailey (D-Houston), chairman of the House General Investigating Committee, held an impromptu press conference in the Speaker’s press room this afternoon to respond to claims that the Governor’s office had limited involvement in the search for the 51 missing Democrats.

What was more interesting was what Bailey said later.

"There has been a significant development today, but I am not at liberty to say what it is right now," Bailey told QR reporter Steve Taylor.

May 28, 2003

Praise for the partnership for america's families

Harold Meyerson has an op-ed in today's Washington Post, "Union Do's and Don'ts For the Democrats." He suggests that labor's GOTV efforts have been good for the Democratic Party in increasing turnout and protecting the party's candidates from GOP onslaughts.

The labor movement wanted to bring this type of operation to the rest of the Democratic base through the Partnership for America's Families. Unfortunately, dissention over the goals of the PAF within the labor movement have put the program in danger.

Northampton Co (VA) gets objection from DOJ

Eastern Shore News reports that Northampton County (Virginia) received an objection from the Justice Department to its request for preclearance of its redistricting plan.

Suffolk Co. Redistricting

Suffolk Life Newspapers are reporting that the Democrats in the county Legislature have moved to intervene in the minority voters' suit against the redistricting plan recently adopted by the Legislature (and still unsigned by the County Executive).

Judge Spratt also asked for briefs on ripeness, the appointment of a special master, and "whether to push back the political calendar for circulating petitions if a plan is not acted on."

redistricting every 2 years

The Christian Science Monitor has an article, Redistricting: the wars get more frequent, trying to put the Texas and Colorado efforts into perspective. Compare this article with this statement by Grover Norquist, quoted in the Denver Post:

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican strategist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform.

"Bipartisanship is another name for date rape," Norquist, a onetime adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said, citing an axiom of House conservatives.

PR as a cure for redistricting woes

Andrew Reding has a pithy piece, Beyond gerrymandering and Texas posses: US electoral reform, in the Christian Science Monitor. He points out, as I did a few days ago (here), that the problems of redistricting (gerrymandering, re-redistricting, litigation, etc.) stem from the use of districts rather than some form of proportional representation.

The Mess in Texas (and DC)

Josh Marshall's column in The Hill expresses wonderment that the Dems on Capitol Hill are not all over the situtation with Tom DeLay. He writes a good overview of the Tom Delay portion of the ever widening scandal.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, the videotapes of the area surrounding the Speaker's office and the Department of Public Safety "command post" during the search for the Killer D's shows the state's assisant attorney for criminal justice coming into the command center several times "seeming to be at least partially in charge of the search operation," according to Rep. Kevin Bailey (D-Houston), quoted in the Austin American-Statesman. Bailey says there and in the San Antonio Express News and Houston Chronicle that he is ending his committee's investigation of the role of the DPS in the search. Travis County DA Ronnie Earl (a Democrat and a veteran hunter of GOP corruption) says, "It's a little early to come to (Bailey's) conclusion. We have a few more questions that need answers before we would be comfortable" in ending the grand jury probe. The Dallas Morning News reports that Kimbrough (the assistant AG) had said in February that he was "in virtually constant communication" with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

Go Ronnie. Release the hounds.

GOP to attack Dem's 527's

The Hill's e-News letter has the following item today under "Omens and Portents":

PAC complaints: Expect Republicans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against two new Democratic political action committees: the Democratic Senate Majority Fund and the New House PAC. Democratic lawmakers have raised restricted hard-money funds for these PACs to give them legitimacy in the eyes of big Democratic donors. The PACs plan on using this seal of approval, so to speak, to convince donors to give them unrestricted soft-money donations. Republican strategists believe this is a violation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. They also believe that government watchdog groups are failing to pursue a legitimate complaint against the groups because of their liberal sympathies.

I can't like directly to this, but you can subscribe here.

May 27, 2003

Suffolk redistricting case can proceed reports that federal Judge Arthur Spratt has refused to dismiss the suit brought by black and Hispanic voters against Suffolk's new redistricting plan. Judge Spratt refused to stay the election or the effectiveness of the redistricting plan.

Suit against New Rochelle districting plan

Minority voters in New Rochelle, NY, have filed suit claiming that they are unfairly treated by the city's districting plan. The suit will go to trial in early June, News 12 Winchester reports.

Does Canada have a bias in favor of rural areas?

A comment to the post on Canada's study of different electoral systems asked if anyone knew if the Canadian parliament had a rural bias (by making rural seats with fewer people). I asked my friend, J. Paul Johnston, who teaches pol sci at the University of Alberta. Paul responded and gave me permission to post his email.

First, a comment about the "comment" regarding rural over-representation in
Canada. Most of it is actually at the provincial level, that is, in the
allocation of seats in provincial legislative assemblies. At the federal level
it appears, though not in any great degree, in two contexts. First, the rules
regarding redistribution under which the "independent" [by law at the federal
level and to varying degrees at the provincial one] electoral boundaries
commissions [an institution Americans should take a LONG, HARD look at!!, then adopt!] operate allows them to accommodate "remote, sparsely populated areas," such as one finds in Labrador or the far northern parts of Quebec, Ontario and the western provinces, by legally establishing districts that are
over-represented by having populations less than the -25% deviation from the
quota set for the province [population quota vary by province due to various
special arrangements that govern the federal apportionment of seats in the
House of Commons among the several provinces, e.g., the quota used in Alberta for the redistribution just completed was just under 107,000 persons.] For example, in Newfoundland and Labrador,there is a single district comprising
the entirety of Labrador which is 62% [i.e., -62] below the provincial quota;
and Ontario has one that is 43.7% below its provincial quota. Secondly, the
rules in some provinces [e.g., Nova Scotis] also allow them to exceed that
lower limit in order to accommodate certain minorities by setting up what are
essentially minority majority districts [or the Canadian "flavor" of that
idea]. This was done recently in Nova Scotia to accommodate Black communities
in the Halifax areas [a carry-over from colonial days and the Underground
railway later] and the MicMac tribe of native Canadians. To achieve this they
formed two districts that are under-represented [!!] by being 20.4% and 28.86%
above their quota. And New Brunswick has a seat for the Acadians achieved by
having one district 27% above the quota and another 21.0% below it.

At the provincial level, the rural over-representation that exists stems
largely from legislative assemblies writing the rules so that urban and rural
districts are formally and legally distinguished and then, in some cases,
designating how many urban [or, as they are called in Alberta "single
municipality"] districts are to be formed [even naming the urban centers and
the numbers of districts for each of them]. Hence, rural dominated assemblies
have been able to retain their status as such by "fixing" the urban-rural
division in the apportionment stage by writing it into the terms of reference
given to the boundary commission. Even then, however, the degree of
malapportionemtn has declined rather markedly in recent years, largely because
urbanization has over the past fifty years left most of the provinces [other
than in the Maritmes]70-75% urban in population. Indeed, the urban-rural mal
apportionment involved in the Supreme Court of Canada's "landmark" decision on
the matter in "The Carter Case" [1992], involving the Saskatchewan Legislative
Assembly, was less than 10% off what the true apportionment should have been.
[You probably should get a copy of John Courtney's new Book, Commissioned
Ridings, that I reviewed for the newsletter of the Representation and Electoral Systems section of the American Political Science Association. It's indispensable for detailed
information about the redistribution process in Canada and its outcomes.]

Enough of my "Pol. S. 496: Representation and Electoral Systems" lecture.
On to the rest of your inquiry.

You can get the exact district populations for the redistribution just
completed at the website of Elections Canada [] by just
clicking on the "icon" designation "Federal Representation 2004" at the lower
left corner of the screen. You have to open each of the ten provincial and
three territorial commissions sites separately, but everything you'll want to
know is given there, including district maps that can be downloaded or

You might note, in particular, that the "population variance" range in
district sizes in B.C. puts 24 of 36 ridings within a -5% to +5% range, 32 of
them within -10% to +10%, and all 36 are contained within a -15% to +15 range,
though the formal limits allow up to -2% to +25%. In Saskatchewan, the range
including all 14 districts is -7.88% to +5.54% and Manitoba's 14 seats range
from -5.49% to 5.54%. These ranges may seem quite "generous" given the "strict
equality' standards applied by American courts, but they represent
considerable "progress" in other jurisdictions, such as Canada, where the
requirements for delivering "effective" representation in practical terms are
taken seriously.

As for the urban/rural composition within districts, you have to go to the
official election returns for specific elections for that information, using
the district level results. Each poll within a district is designated as being
urban, rural, or mixed, and the population contained in it is reported. You
get that information at the same website;

Howard Dean and the Internet

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has an interesting post on the use of the Internet by Howard Dean's campaign for president.

And another post about whether Dean is really a liberal.

The Mess in Texas

The Department of Public Safety has now produced a complete copy of the video tape showing Speaker Tom Craddick's office and the adjoining command post DPS set up during the search for the Killer D's. See the story in the SanAntonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman will ask today for a full accounting of any help the administration gave to the Texas GOP in the hunt for the Killer D's, according to the Washington Post.

L'etat est moi.

The New York Times has a piece on the editorial page today about the Republicans' disrespect for established rules, such as re-redistricting Texas and Colorado. For Partisan Gain, Republicans Decide Rules Were Meant to Be Broken.

May 26, 2003

Feds probe the "four tops" in Illinois

Archpundit at Political State Report: straight from the trenches reports on an investigation into the activities of the four top legislative leaders. The investigations seem to relate to the use of state employees for campaigns.

DeLay's at it again

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall has an interesting story about Tom DeLay and the complaint that state Rep. Richard Raymond filed with the Justice Department about the lack of Spanish language notices regarding the consideration of the re-redistricting bill as required by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Several Republicans told Raymond that DeLay had told them that he (DeLay) had taken care of the complaint and it would be dismissed.

So, Raymond dismissed his complaint, citing the information that it would be dismissed. Then the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights wrote back that the charge against the Justice Department was incorrect, and that the complaint was being handled the same way all Section 5 complaints were. Raymond's lawyer has now written back and asked a series of pointed questions about the contacts between DeLay and Justice. TPM has the exchange of letters.

Florida Legislature Unresponsive to the People

Howard Troxler's column in today's St. Petersburg Times explains a lot about what's wrong in Florida's legislature, and probably plenty of others around the country. He concludes, "Can the system fix itself? I don't think so. There is no free market in which a citizen revolt will rise up naturally at the ballot box. The Legislature guarantees its own incumbency with overwhelming campaign money and noncompetitive district maps."


Is Texas Re-redistricting Coming Back?

Dave McNeely in the Austin American-Statesman reports that Gov. Perry could include congressional redisticting in the call for a special session. McNeely discusses the pros and cons for Perry to do that, his timing, and the possibility that Dems could block the bill a second time.

Don't Mess with Texas

The biggest story out of Texas today (if judged by the number of outlets carrying the story) is the controversy between the WD-40 Co. and the WD-40's (white Democrats over 40) in the Killer D's group. A lawyer for the WD-40 Co. wrote and nicely asked the afore-mentioned rural white Dems to stop using the trademarked name. Well, the alleged WD-40's got themselves a lawyer -- one Martinez Fischer, described in his letter as "Special Counsel to Rural White Boys" -- who wrote back. The El Paso Times reports some of the letter:

"We are appalled and offended that you and your client, the WD-40 Co., would recklessly inject the issue of race in your letter," they wrote to Pasulka. "We were not aware that your client harbored reservations about doing business with Anglo white males over 40."

How could the small band of Texas bubbas possibly dilute the good name of WD-40, they asked? How could consumers be confused "as these Anglo males, although extremely popular, are not offering themselves for sale?"

The Texas lawmakers also reminded the California lawyer that Texas law holds the state immune from suit -- and permission from the Texas Legislature is required before a lawsuit can be filed.

Martinez Fischer, described as "Special Counsel to Rural White Boys," noted that Texas is struggling with a $10 billion budget shortfall. The letter referred to WD-40s' "extensive product offerings" and mentioned the possibility of "an interim study on hazardous effects of WD-40 aerosol hydrocarbons around livestock."

They also raised the possibility of the massive state employees and teachers retirement funds selling all their WD-40 stock.

The letter closed with two postscripts: "Mean letter to follow" and "Interested in an endorsement deal?"

Howard Dean raises $1 million via Internet

Rick Klau
reports and comments on the fact that Howard Dean has raised $1 million through his Internet site. Rick points out the significance of this because there is less fundraising cost (postage, paper, etc) from using the Internet in raising money.

(Thanks to Ernie the Attorney for the link.)

Local TV not covering politics

Last October I mentioned a press release about a study of local news not carrying much information about local and state campaigns. The Lear Center's Local News Archive has released more details now about the study. This is just a statement to the FCC, but it does contain some disturbing information.

48% of the early- and late-evening half-hours of local news watched by most Americans during the 2002 general election season—nearly a majority of the broadcasts in our sample—contained no campaign coverage at all. When campaign stories did air, they mostly were less than ninety seconds long; they mostly contained no sound bites from candidates; they mostly came in the last two weeks before Election Day; they focused on strategy and polls nearly half the time; they focused on statewide over local races by almost 7 to 1; and they were outnumbered by paid campaign ads by nearly 4 to 1. In other words, most Americans probably saw more prime time entertainment on a single night than they saw election coverage over an entire campaign season of watching local news.

NY Times editorial

The New York Times recommends Two Ways to Boost Democracy to the state legislature -- changes to the campaign finance laws and establishing a commission to redistrict the state after the next census.

May 25, 2003

Liberal groups plot strategy to held Dems

"Major liberal organizations, from labor unions to civil rights groups, have begun to meet privately to develop a coordinated strategy to oppose President Bush's reelection in 2004. Their goal is to buttress the Democratic Party and its nominee by orchestrating voter mobilization and independent media in as many as a dozen battleground states.

"All of the organizations are free to accept unlimited contributions, or "soft money" from wealthy individuals, unions and corporations. These donations are the kind that the new campaign finance law prohibits political parties and federal candidates from collecting."

Read the rest in Tom Edsall's article in the Washington Post.

More on Mess in Texas

The Washington Post has two letters under the headline, "On-the-Lam Lawmakers -- and a Hightailing Hero. The latter deals with a legislator who jumped out of a window to prevent a quorum -- Abe Lincoln.

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lieberman describes the involvement of Tom DeLay and Homeland Security in the Texas Legislative roundup this way: "It smells."

Hebert exonerated in Texas

In Friday's Dallas Morning News, an article about Tom DeLay's request to the FAA for information on State Rep. Pete Laney's plane contains the following at the end:

In related matter, a DPS spokeswoman said a Travis County prosecutor has told the DPS that there was insufficient evidence to press charges in the reported theft of a GOP redistricting map. A Craddick aide said that an aide to U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Arlington, took draft redistricting maps from his briefcase, which he had left unattended in a Capitol committee room.

A surveillance camera showed that Frost aide leaving the room with documents.

Gerry Hebert, one of the "aides to ... Frost," provided this article to me. For the original accusation, see my earlier posts here, here, and here.

May 24, 2003

Partnership for America's Families

According to the Washington Post, "All three board members of the Partnership for America's Families, a political committee created by organized labor, have resigned in a dispute with Steve Rosenthal, its executive director and former AFL-CIO political director."

Ohio Redistricting Upheld

The AP reports that a three-judge federal panel ruled on Friday that the State Apportionment board did not discriminate against blacks.

Did the Texas GOP Win Fairly?

The Texas GOP is able to run roughshod over the Democrats on issues like redistricting because they have a majority in both houses. Was their win in last fall's election fair? That's the question Amy Smith asks in The Austin Chronicle Politics: Campaign Money Shuffle?
I have discussed a lot of background on this previously. Just do a search on "Texas" and look at the stories on the bottom half of the list.

The Mess in Texas

For some reason, the American Express (I think) commercial from several years ago with Jerry Seinfeld saying, "Release the hounds," popped into my head the other day. The Republicans thought they would release the hounds on the Killer D's when they fled from the House two weeks ago. Now, it seems that the hounds have been released on them. Let's go over the investigations, admissions, etc.

First, Tom DeLay admitted that he had called the FAA and the Justice Department in an effort to track the missing Democrats. See the
Washington Post.

Second, a grand jury in Travis County is investigating the Department of Public Safety's destruction of the documents relating to the search for the Killer D's. See the story in the San Antonio Express-News.

Third, the Department of Homeland Security is investigating wehter a DPS employee broke the law by asking DHS for help in finding the plane on Rep. Pete Laney. See the story in the Austin American-Statesman.

Fourth, Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta has ordered a review of the Federal Aviation Administration's help to DeLay in finding the Laney plane. DeLay says it was publically available information. See the story in the Longview News-Journal.

Colorado redistricting

Cong. Mark Udall (D-Ut) has moved to intervene in the Attorney General's suit against the Secretary of State over the new congressional redistricting plan. Rep. Udall asks to be made the principal plaintiff if the Supreme Court decides that the AG cannot maintain the suit. See Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. On Thursday, the Supreme Court refused to dismiss the AG's suit, but did give him 30 days to explain why he is suing his usual client, the Secretary of State, According to the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

For more on the "what did they know and when did they know it" story, see this from the Denver Post.

To add a bit of humor to the situation, read Bob Ewegen's column in the Post. The first part is about a sex club, so just avert your eyes till you get to the subhead "OOOUWW, OUCH, ARRRGHHH!" where the fun commences. (I don't know what the part about the sex club said because I averted my eyes.) My favorite line: "We are eighteen, you are seventeen, you are gonna get screwed."

Colorado redistricting complaint

David R. Fine of Kelly|Haglund|Garnsey+Kahn LLC has kindly sent me a copy of the amended complaint his firm filed in the private Colorado redistricting suit. I have placed a copy of it here. (Please note that I have not modified the document in any way. The strange paragraph numbering was in the document I received.)

May 23, 2003

Welcome to the new blog

I have switched from Blogger to Movable Type (which is running on my main website). Bear with me while I get the bugs out. I plan on keeping the Blogger site going for a while just for the one or two people who might actually want to check one of the old messages through a permanent link. I should have all the old messages on this site within a few days.

May 21, 2003

Hawaii criminal complaint in campaign finance case

Honolulu attorney Edward Y.C. Chun has been charged with assising a corporation in reimbursing contributions made by three employees to the campaign of Mayor Jeremy Harris, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.

Kentucky GOP primary for governor

Cong. Ernie Fletcher won the Republican primary for governor with 57% of the vote. State Rep. Steve Nunn, who tried to have Fletcher removed from the ballot, received 13%. Nunn claimed that Fletcher was disqualified by the removal of his running mate Hunter Bates on the grounds that Bates had not met the 7-year residency requirement. See the story in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Louisiana redistricting

The Justice Department has precleared the Louisiana House redistricting plan, according to the Associated Press.

New York City council term limits extension

Here is a more complete story from Newsday on the state appellate decision Monday to allow some city council members to serve 10 years instead of the "two terms" provided in a voter-approved referendum. The City Council had amended the law to allow members forced to serve a two-year term after redistricting to serve that term plus two 4-year terms.

Canada begins consideration of electoral system reform

Rick Hasen has a post on his Election Law blog about the publication of the discussion paper, "Renewing Democracy:
Debating Electoral Reform in Canada." I thought that I had mentioned that report months ago, but can't find it.

Those interested in true reform of the electoral system would do well to review this report. I'm currently having a good time blogging about the efforts of the GOP to redo the congressional districts in Texas and Colorado to give themselves an advantage. If some sort of proportional system were used, the incentive or opportunity to gerrymander would vanish. For instance, if Alabama used the system called Additonal Member System in Scotland and Mixed-Member Proportional Voting in New Zealand, we could scrap our 7 congressional districts and replace them with 4 districts. Each would elect one member of Congress using the same system we do now. In addition, each voter would have a second vote to cast for a party. If the Republicans got about 5/7 of the statewide "party-choosing" vote, they would get 5 members of the total delegation; if they had won 3 of the 4 districts seats, they would get two elected from their statewide list. If they had won only 2 district seats, they would get all three of the statewide seats. What's the point in gerrymandering to screw the other party, if the other party is going to get a fair share of the seats no matter how gerrymandered the system?

Note: This Additional Member System is used in Germany, but I don't remember the German term for it.

More fallout from the Texas

More fallout from the Texas redistricting saga

Josh Marshall, whose Talking Points Memo has done a lot on the Texas story, has a column in The Hill today concerning the efforts of Tom DeLay to get federal involvement in the efforts to track down the runaway Democrats.

The Democrats, in the meanwhile, are asking for "who knew what when" in the request from the Texas DPS to the Homeland Security Department to track the plane of one Democrat. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas Public Safety Commission refused to discuss the matter with a Democratic legislator. The Dallas Morning News also has a story. AP is now reporting that Texas DPS has destroyed the records requesting the search.

Finally, KRIS-TV reports a conservative group has threatened to file a bar complaint against the legislator-attorneys in the Killer D's for "resisting arrest" when they refused to return to Texas when confronted by the Texas DPS in Armore, OK.

Colorado congressional district maps Daniel

Colorado congressional district maps

Daniel Smith, of the U of Denver pol sci depaprtment, has clued me into the link to find the 2003 congressional plan passed by the legislature and now under attack. Go here and click on "View Interactive Legislative District Maps" -- yes, that's what it says and the link confused me too.

Mississippi judicial campaign investigation The

Mississippi judicial campaign investigation

The Biloxi Sun Herald reports today that Richard Scruggs paid off an $80,000 campaign loan for Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz. Scruggs has 4 cases pending before the Supreme Court. The paper does not say whether Diaz has recused himself from those cases.

Colorado redistricting The Legislature has

Colorado redistricting

The Legislature has hired Richard Westfall to represent it in the suit brought by Sen. Mary Ann "Moe" Keller against the new redistricting plan. See the AP story in the Rocky Mountain News. For some reason, Democrats have objected to spending taxpayer money on this suit, according to the Denver Post.

Sen. John Andrews, the sponsor of the redistricting, defends his conduct in a letter to the Denver Post (it's the 4th down.)

May 19, 2003

South Carolina doing a mid-term

South Carolina doing a mid-term redistricting

The S.C. House is considering a bill to make minor changes to the court-ordered redistricting plan to reduce the number of split precincts. See the AP story here.

New York City law extending

New York City law extending term limits is OK

An appellate court has ruled that the City Council's amendment of the city term limits law is not invalid. The Council passed the law because the term limits law would have unfairly affected the members of the council whose terms are shortened to 2 years because of redistricting. Read the AP report here.

BCRA stay Thanks to Marty

BCRA stay

Thanks to Marty Ledermar Of SCOTUSblog for providing a link to the stay order and partial dissent by the 3-judge court. Two judges granted the stay and Judge Leon dissented in part.

May 18, 2003

Contributions by Iraq-rebuilding contractors Thomas

Contributions by Iraq-rebuilding contractors

Thomas Hargrove of Scripts Howard News Service reports

Construction and engineering firms seeking federal contracts to rebuild war-torn Iraq made millions of dollars in political contributions last year, including extensive use of big-money donations to the major political parties.

DSCC complains to FEC about

DSCC complains to FEC about Club for Growth ads

The Rapid City Journal reported earlier this week,

Television ads that take Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to task for opposing President Bush's tax-cut package break the new federal campaign-finance laws, Democratic leaders believe.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a formal complaint against ad sponsor Club for Growth with the Federal Election Commission this week. The DSCC contends that Club for Growth uses unrestricted soft money to campaign against an individual candidate, something a new federal law says can be done only with limited hard money.

Mississippi campaign finance/bribery probe While

Mississippi campaign finance/bribery probe

While the Washington Post has an article on this probe, the Clarion-Ledger has more details here, and here. The Biloxi Sun Herald has several articles here, here, here, and here.

The basic allegation seems to be that Paul Minor is underwriting judicial election campaigns in return for rulings. Since this is before a grand jury and almost nobody is talking to the press, there are lots of rumors and inuendos in the stories.

PR in Scotland I reported

PR in Scotland

I reported earlier this week that the new coalition government in Scotland agreed to adopt Single Transferable Vote in local councils in Scotland.

The Glasgow Sunday Mail reports that Labour could lose control of 7 local councils because of the new system.

The Glasgow Herald has a column asking whether the proliferation of voting systems in Scotland means its voters are sophisticated or confused.

The Evening Telegraph reports that Dundee's council elections using First Past The Post resulted in a proportional distribution of the seats among the parties.

Montana redistricting suit The Helena

Montana redistricting suit

The Helena (MT) Independent Record has an editorial today commenting on the GOP effort to undo the redistricting plan of the independent commission.

Yesterday, the AP reported on the initial hearing of the suit challenging the GOP's new law. The judge "challenged the assertion that legislators were acting within their constitutional power in changing the criteria for the plan after it was adopted by the Districting and Apportionment Commission in February."

Colorado redistricting Rep. McInnis and

Colorado redistricting

Rep. McInnis and Beauprez claim that they knew nothing in advance about the filing of the redistricting plan (favorable to both) in the Colorado legislature -- despite the involvement of Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. The "Spin Cycled" column in the Denver Post offers this contrary evidence.

Texas redistricting and the flight

Texas redistricting and the flight of the Killer Ds

How will history view the Killer Ds "hiding out" in Oklahoma for 4 days? The El Paso Times offers this assortment of views.

May 17, 2003

Federal probe of Ga. Speaker

Federal probe of Ga. Speaker

Paul McCord reports on Political State Report that there is a federal probe of the Georgia speaker of the house for using campaign funds for personal expenses, including making mortgage payments on his condo.

Other redistricting stories Green Party

Other redistricting stories

Green Party members are challenging the new redistricting plan for the Maine House because it divides the only Green-held district in the state. See the story on News 8 WMTW.

Suffolk County, NY, has adopted a new redistricting plan on a party line vote. Two Ds will be paired in one district. Newsday has stories here, and here.

The Killer D's are back

The Killer D's are back in Texas

Here are some stories on the week-long flight of the Killer D's.

Houston Chronicle, "Democrats kept an eye on each other," here
   and "Glad to be back home," here

Austin American Statesman -- "Wayward lawmakers back at Capitol, ready to get back to work now that redistricting is dead," here
   and "Both parties emerge with greater unity," by Dave McNeely, here

New York Times, "U.S. Agency to Review Its Role in Hunt for Texas Lawmaker," here

May 16, 2003

More advice sought for defense fund

Another pol in trouble, James W. Treffinger, is seeking to use his leftover campaign funds for the defense of his criminal case. See his request here.

An Analysis of Election Fraud

An Analysis of Election Fraud

Demos has published a study of fraud in elections, "Securing the Vote: An Analysis of Election Fraud." It finds that fraud is a small problem in American elections.

Notice of this report came to me in "Democracy Dispatches," a email newsletter Demos sends out periodically. To see the latest issue, click here and to sign up, click here.

The Texas strays return in

The Texas strays return in triumph or obliquy

The Democrats have returned to the Capitol according to the Austin American-Statesman. The paper also has PDFs of the current and proposed maps.

The Austin Chronicle publishes the statement of the absconding Democrats.

Bob Ray Sanders has a pro-Democratic commentary in the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Colorado redistricting The Colorado Supreme

Colorado redistricting

The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear the suit by Attorney General Ken Salazar against the Secretary of State, according to the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. Salazar has argued that the legislature cannot adopt a new redistricting plan after a state court has done so (following the earlier failure of the legislature to adopt a plan).

The Denver Post also has op-eds by Democratic and Republican legislators.

In the meanwhile, Democrats in New Mexico and Oklahoma may seek to redraw their own plans, but national leaders are discouraging them, according to the Houston Chronicle.

May 15, 2003

Colorado redistricting The Colorado attorney

Colorado redistricting

The Colorado attorney general has filed a petition in the state supreme court asking it to rule that the redistricting law is illegal, according to a Denver Post columnist and news story. An editorial in the Post comments on the suit. Another story is in the Rocky Mountain News.

The latest "news" on the

The latest "news" on the Texas strays

Willie Nelson has sent his good wishes, some red bandanas, and whiskey to the Democratic legislators holed up in Armore, OK, according to the AP.

A federal agency that is supposed to track terrorists was asked to trace the private plane of one of the Democrats, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Another story reports that the GOP leadership has stopped trying to arrest the legislators.

Speaker Tom Craddick admits that the redistricting bill (along with everything else not voted on) will die tonight at midnight, News 8 Austin reports.

Campaign Legal Center comments on

Campaign Legal Center comments on Rep. Majette's request for Advsiory Opinion

Rep. Denise Majette has asked for an Advisory Opinion about the creation of a Legal Defense Fund. The Campaign Legal Center has filed a comment pointing out the effect of the BCRA on the proposed fund.

May 14, 2003

The Forum I received the

The Forum

I received the following notice tonight:

The Berkeley Electronic Press, together with editor Nelson W. Polsby of UC Berkeley and managing editor Raymond J. La Raja of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is pleased to announce a new issue of The Forum, a journal of applied research in contemporary politics.

In the third issue of The Forum, we give an early preview of the 2004 Elections with a focus on the Democratic presidential nominations, including discussions of front-loading, campaign money, the divided electorate, and the strategic advantages of each major party. Most articles address what Democrats must do to be competitive against George W. Bush. Additional articles about the elections are forthcoming. Among the published articles (see conclusion of message for full citations and abstracts, or click links to view full text):

The purpose of The Forum ( ) is to provide an outlet for professionally informed commentary on issues in contemporary American politics: issues engaging parties, elections, the news media, Congress, the Presidency, and trends in public policy relating to the functioning of these major American political institutions such as electoral reform, campaign finance, Presidential popularity and Congressional productivity. To submit your next paper to The Forum, visit and click the "Submit Article" link in the upper right corner.


Nelson W. Polsby (2003) "How to Spin the 2002 Election", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 1.

Professor Polsby explains that the 2002 elections ended in nearly a draw, even though the conventional wisdom is that the Republicans won a clear victory.

Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde (2003) "Will Changing the Rules Change the Game?: Front-loading and the 2004 Democratic Presidential Nomination", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 2.

Professors Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde discuss the major reform introduced by the Democratic Party for its 2004 presidential nomination contest-rules that will lead to a large number of delegates being chosen early in the delegate selection window. They show that the 2004 contest will be more "front-loaded" than any contest since the Democrats introduced a delegate selection "window" in 1980. They argue that these rules, along with the large field of Democratic contenders, make it more likely that no clear winner will emerge before the Democratic Party nomination convention.

Gerald Pomper (2003) "The Presidential Election of 2004", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 3.

Professor Pomper speculates on the likely outcome and meaning of the 2004 presidential elections. Given the power of the White House to influence events and media coverage, as well as the emerging electoral advantages of the Republican Party, Pomper believes George W. Bush will be returned to office. He points to three trends in particular that favor the GOP: recent shifts in electoral votes, financial wealth and voter turnout. A presidential victory for the Republicans raises prospects for party dominance in Congress and the courts, with long-term consequences
favoring conservative policies. Democrats must hope that fears of terrorism will recede, and that voters will place renewed emphasis on egalitarianism, especially with the expansion of the Hispanic and African-American electorate.

John K. White and John Zogby (2003) "The Fifty-Something President", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 4.

Looking back in recent presidential history, the authors show that Bush appears to defy prior trends with his high approval ratings in the third year. They explain, however, that he is vulnerable in 2004, particularly because he has not created a governing majority for his domestic agenda. The sharpening partisan divide among the electorate, especially on lifestyle issues, shows that Bush lacks the broad support his father enjoyed immediately after the first Gulf War. To win in 2004, Democrats must find a way to neutralize Bush's advantages on security, run on issues that emphasize job security, and prevent the president from winning over Hispanic voters.

L. Sandy Maisel (2003) "Pick a Name. Any Name.", The Forum: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 6.

Professor Maisel identifies the Democratic presidential candidates with the best prospects and explains what each must do to win the nomination. He evaluates the candidates based on four aspects of the campaign: fundraising, geographic constituency, name recognition and ideological constituency. The unusually heavy frontloaded nomination process gives candidates with the strongest finances and organization better odds than ever to be the Democratic nominee.

Indiana election cases Marcia Oddi

Indiana election cases

Marcia Oddi of the Indiana Law Blog was nice enough to send me a note about two cases from earlier in the year.

First, a decision by the state supreme court imposing a redistricting plan for the Indianapolis City/County Council. The Court reversed the lower court decision because its plan was "uniformly supported by one major political party and uniformly opposed by the other [and therefore] incompatible with applicable principles of both the appearance and fact of judicial independence and neutrality."

Second, a superior court instated two losing candidates after they challenged the winners on the grounds that the winner were convicted felons and therefore ineligible to hold office.

Texas Redistricting Maps To view

Texas Redistricting Maps

To view the current plan for Texas congressional districts, go to the Texas Legislative Council site, and click on "View Current Districts."

To view the proposed GOP plan, go to the same site, click on "RedViewer," click on "All Other Redistricting Plans," and choose Plan 1180.

Colorado redistricting map The maps

Colorado redistricting map

The maps and data for the Congressional plan adopted by the Colorado court in early 2002 is here (Colorado official site) or here (NCEC site). When I find a link to the new map, I will post it. In the meanwhile, here is the act.

Scotland to adopted Proportional Representation

Scotland to adopted Proportional Representation for local elections

According to the BBC and the Edinburgh Evening News, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have reached an agreement for a coalition government in Scotland. One key point of the agreement is to introduce Single Transferable Vote at local council elections by 2007. See the Lib Dem Manifesto. Labour had opposed STV at the local level, according to an earlier BBC story.

The Scottish Parliament is elected using the system called Additional Member System in Britain. It is the same system used in Germany and New Zealand. Voters elect one or two MPs for each constituency and also vote for a party on a regional list. Members are elected from the regional list so that the total number of party members in that region is proportional to the regional vote for the party. Here is the BBC slide on AMS.

Here are the results according to the Lib Dems site. To see a different view, go here and click on "Hollyrood Results" on the right margin.

Suffolk County NY redistricting in

Suffolk County NY redistricting in court

The Suffolk County legislature failed to reach an agreement on a redistricting plan yesterday. "U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt has scheduled a hearing in a lawsuit filed by Suffolk Hispanic and African-American residents who say the legislature has failed to act in a timely manner to draw new lines. The current boundaries, they say, violate their rights by dividing minority communities among legislative districts," according to Newsday.

Today's roundup of stories on

Today's roundup of stories on the Texas strays

Google News has 543 stories on the absconding Texas legislators. Here are the ones that seem to add some new information:
   Tom DeLay wants the feds to arrest the legislators, while the Texas DPS harasses legislators' families-- Houston Chronicle
   The Hill
   The Republicans are running ads for the arrest of some Democrats, publishing decks of cards with their pictures --Austin American-Statesman
   "House to stay shut, absentees vow" -- Houston Chronicle
   Who's to blame? They are, say both sides -- Dallas Morning News

May 13, 2003

Roundup on other redistricting news

Roundup on other redistricting news

Montana: The Great Falls Tribune reports, as does the Billings Gazette, that the Legislature has adopted an act to force the Secretary of State to reject the redistricting plan adopted by the Districting and Apportionment Commission. Seems that the Dems ended up with a 3-2 majority on the Commission, and the GOP claims that the Commission plan is pro-Democratic. For information on the commission and its work, go here.

Suffolk County, NY: Unless the Suffolk county legislature was able to adopt a redistricting plan today, a federal court will be hearing the matter tomorrow, Newsday reports. Time is short: the Democrats are supposed to nominate candidates next week, and Republicans the week after.

Louisiana: Gov. Foster has signed the bills redistricting the state house and senate, according to the AP. The new redistricting was necessary because of a district court's rejection of the previous plans. See the NAACP LDF's statement on the case.

The latest on the Texas

The latest on the Texas strays

The Dallas Morning News has this light-hearted story about the runaways in their "hideout" in Oklahoma. Fox News reports that one Democrat was arrested near her Austin apartment.

AG won't defend new Colorado

AG won't defend new Colorado redistricting plan

The Rocky Mountain News reports that the state Attorney General refuses to defend the suit against the new congressional redistricting plan. The Secretary of State is looking for an attorney to defend the plan.

Latest on Texas redistricting The

Latest on Texas redistricting

The Washington Post, The Hill, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Dallas Morning News have stories on the flight of the Democratic House members to stop action on the congressional redistricting bill. The Texas papers report that the Dems are in a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, OK, and the Texas law officers are seeking federal authority to arrest the legislators.

Providian National Bank wants to

Providian National Bank wants to market political party affinity credit cards

Providian National Bank, a large credit card issuer, has requested an advisory opinion from the FEC whether it may enter into agreements with national political parties to use their mailing lists to solicit customers for credit cards branded with the political party name and symbol. If the customer chose a rebate credit card, he or she could direct that the rebate be paid to the political party.

May 12, 2003

Draft advisory opinion on refunds

Draft advisory opinion on refunds to contributors

The General Counsel has circulated to the FEC commissioners a draft advsiory opinion to the Virginia Highlands Advancement Fund. The VHAF received a refund from the IRS and wants to know what it may do with the funds. The draft opinion advises that the Fund should make pro rata refunds to its contributors.

Colorado redistricting plan revised, Dems

Colorado redistricting plan revised, Dems sue

The Colorado papers have several stories concerning the hasty adoption of a new congressional redistricting plan in Colorado, and the suit by the Democrats to block the new plan. See the stories in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, the Aurora Sentinel, and AP via the

More on redistricting in Texas

More on redistricting in Texas

The Associated Press via the Houston Chronicle reports that John Alford, a Rice University political scientist who has advised Republicans on redistricting, has denounced the proposed redistricting plan as "a pro-Republican partisan gerrymander on top of an already pro-Republican existing plan."

The Austin American-Statesman reports that one Democratic House member has filed suit in a federal court in Laredo, claiming that "the Republican-backed plans violate a section of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires information about election-related activities to be published and distributed in English and other languages. He said notices about public hearings were not printed in Spanish."

Texas House Democrats walk out

Texas House Democrats walk out

Charles Kuffner of Political State Report says that 52 House Democrats have taken off for parts unknown to protest the Republican redistricting plan, among other things. The House rules require 100 members (2/3) for a quorum. The 52 absconders make it impossible to obtain a quorum.

Legal Times wrap up on

Legal Times wrap up on McConnell v. FEC

Despite the title, "Campaign Finance Ruling Gives No Satisfaction" reports on both the good and the bad points for lots of positions in the case.

May 10, 2003

Wisconsin corruption trial Former Assembly

Wisconsin corruption trial

Former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who faces felony charges of misconduct in public office, has used nearly $100,000 from his campaign fund to pay for his legal defense, federal records show. ... State law allows politicians to use campaign money for their legal defense against alleged campaign finance or election law violations as long as they get the donors' permission. ... Jay Heck, director of the reform group Common Cause in Wisconsin, ... questioned whether Jensen can use his campaign funds to defend himself when he was not charged with either a campaign finance or elections law violation.
Madison Capital Times

Colorado GOP plans another Congressional

Colorado GOP plans another Congressional redistricting

Luis at Poltical state Report has a post on the plan to remap the congressional districts in Colorado.

Katrina Leung

Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points has a long post about the failure of the media to mention Katrina Leung's fundraising for Republicans when reporting her indictment for passing secrets to the Chinese. (Thanks to TalkLeft for the link.) TPM has these follow-ups: here, here, here.

IRS publishes Q&A on new

IRS publishes Q&A on new Section 527 requirements

The Internal Revenue Service has published a Revenue Ruling in a question and answer format on the new requirements for political organizations. Here is the introduction to the Ruling:

On November 2, 2002, Pub. L. 107-276 was enacted, amending § 527 of the Code. The new law amends the reporting and disclosure requirements for tax-exempt political organizations described in § 527 with respect to the following: (1) notice of status, (2) periodic reports of contributions and expenditures, and (3) annual returns. This revenue ruling provides questions and answers relating to the reporting and disclosure requirements for political organizations described in § 527, as amended by Pub. L. 107-276.

Many parties seek stay on

Many parties seek stay on BCRA ruling

After the NRA filed its motion to stay the decision in McConnell v FEC, the court entered an order requiring all motions to be filed by noon on Friday. The order is here. You may see the stay applications at the Campaign Media Center's site.

Texas Democrats sue over campaign

Texas Democrats sue over campaign violations, while GOP proposes another shafting

Two Democrats who lost in legislative races are suing Texans for a Republican Majority (founded by Cong. Tom DeLay) for not reporting all the funds it collected and expended on behalf of winning Republican candidates. Under Texas law, losing candidates may sue for twice the amount not reported. See the story in the Houston Chronicle. (Thanks to Jim Dedman for the link.) To view the contribution and expenditure reports TRM filed with the Internal Revenue Service, click here.

In the meanwhile, the Republican majority in the Texas legislature is now proposing a new Congressional plan that will increase the number of Republicans in the Congressional delegation. See the Houston Chronicle stories here and here.

The Drug Czar and Nevada

The Drug Czar and Nevada campaign finance disclsoure

The National Law Journal reports,

Federal "drug czar" John P. Walters campaigned against a Nevada ballot proposal to legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana, but he refuses on constitutional grounds to file a campaign spending report.
Special Assistant Attorney General Jonathan L. Andrews wrote that it is "extremely likely" the courts would find Walters immune from compliance with state law. The opinion cited an 1890 decision immunizing federal officers operating within the normal scope of their duties. In re Neagle, 135 U.S. 1 (1890).
Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Walters also campaigned against marijuana decriminalization measures in Ohio and Arizona but only Nevada has a relevant disclosure law.

He contends that the Nevada campaign reporting statute is binding on Walters by the terms of the U.S. Supreme Court's Johnson v. Maryland, 254 U.S. 51, which says federal employees must obey all state regulations, such as building codes or traffic laws, that do not "frustrate the full effectiveness of federal law."

May 8, 2003

Kentucky governor's race The Louisville

Kentucky governor's race

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports today:

Front-runner Ernie Fletcher can remain on the May 20 Republican primary ballot for governor because he had the right to name a new running mate for lieutenant governor, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday.
Meanwhile, among the Democrats ...
Two Democratic candidates for governor released a flurry of TV ads and e-mails Tuesday attacking front-runner Ben Chandler on charges of plagiarism, falsification of documents and questionable campaign contributions, less than two weeks before the primary election. ... In one new ad aired Tuesday, Lunsford's running mate, former federal prosecutor Barbara Edelman, lambastes Chandler for taking campaign contributions from people who were later indicted for vote fraud and for accepting contributions from people who are under investigation by the Attorney General's Office.
(from the Kentucky Post)

May 7, 2003

McConnell v FEC As usual,

McConnell v FEC

As usual, the Campaign Legal Center is doing a great job in gathering and putting on the web all the documents in the McConnell case. In addition to the decision and opinions, the CLC has posted summaries by many of the interested parties, a link to the documents unsealed by the court, and the stay motions filed in the case. To see the jurisdictional statement filed by McConnell, go here. (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link to the latter.)

May 5, 2003

Jurisdictional Statement Filed by Opponents

Jurisdictional Statement Filed by Opponents of Campaign Finance Law

SCOTUSblog reports:

The lead plaintiffs in McConnell v. FEC have already filed a jurisdictional statement in the Supreme Court seeking review of those portions of the three-judge court's opinion that upheld significant provisions of the BCRA, and that concluded that challenges to other provisions were nonjusticiable at this time.

[Thanks to Goldstein & Howe for making this available.]

Purdue v. Baker SCOTUSblog reports

Purdue v. Baker

SCOTUSblog reports today:

The Georgia Supreme Court has announced it will be web-casting the oral argument in Purdue v. Baker, the fight over whether the state AG or instead the governor, has control over redistricting litigation now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The argument will be tomorrow at 10am, and the web-cast is supposed to be available at this link. Many thanks to the reader who passed the notice on to us.

[That's 6 May at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.]

May 4, 2003

AO request: Home Depot Home

AO request: Home Depot

Home Depot, Inc., has requested an Advsory Opinion. It wishes to give a pin advertising the company's separate segreted fund to the contributions to the fund. Home Depot wants to know if it can give these pins and whether the employees can wear them. (Warning: I have been able to read the request online, but any attempt to print it has frozen my computer.)

AO request: Rep. Majette's defense

AO request: Rep. Majette's defense fund

Rep. Denise Majette (D-Ga4) defeated Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary last year. Supporters of McKinney have brought suit against Majette charging violations of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution because an alleged conspiracy to have Republicans vote in the Democratic primary. Majette has requested an Advisory Opinion that funds raised for a defense fund are not contributions under the Federal Election Campaign Act. The request and its supporting documents are 163 pages long. If you are interested in the suit by the McKinney backers, you can find it in the attachments to the request.

FEC Advisory Opinion re payroll

FEC Advisory Opinion re payroll deductions for PAC

At the meeting on 8 May, the FEC will consider the draft Advosory Opinion to the Public Services Enterprise Group, Inc.. PSEG wants to transfer all payroll deduction authorization from one separate segregated fund to another. The draft authorizes this if certain conditions are met.

McConnell v FEC fallout Can

McConnell v FEC fallout

Can parties start raising and spending soft money? That's the question discussed in this article from the New York Times and this one in the Washington Post.

While I have been tied up in depositions (yes, even on Saturday), Rick Hasen, Howard Bashman, and SCOTUSblog have been collecting news stories and making intelligent commentary about the case.

May 2, 2003

McConnell v FCC The Court

McConnell v FCC

The Court has issued the McConnell decision. Get it here. The main opinion is 171 pages, and pages 5-15 contain a summary of all the rulings. Each of the judges wrote separately on some issues. The Court also issued a ruling on the sealed material -- it appears that much of the information previously sealed must be refiled as part of the public record.

This is the summary (page number are included):

In light of the number of provisions in BCRA being challenged, the complexity of the
issues presented by each challenge, and the variety of positions and voting combinations
taken by the three judges on this District Court, we set forth a brief description and a chart,
on a section by section basis, of the various rulings
A. Title I
Section 323(a) of BCRA bans national parties from soliciting, receiving, directing,
transferring, and spending nonfederal funds (i.e., soft money). Judge Henderson strikes this
section down as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons, files a
concurrence, joining with Judge Henderson, except with respect to the ban on national parties
from using (i.e., ?directing,? ?transferring,? and ?spending?) nonfederal funds (i.e., soft
money) for ?federal election activity? of the type defined in Section 301(20)(A)(iii). As to
that type of conduct, Judge Leon upholds the constitutionality of Congress’s ban on the use
of nonfederal funds by national parties for Section 301(20)(A)(iii) communications. Judge
Kollar-Kotelly upholds Section 323 (a) in its entirety. Accordingly, Judge Leon’s decision
regarding Section 323(a) controls.
Section 323(b) prohibits state parties from using nonfederal money for ?federal
election activities? as defined in Section 301(20)(A) of BCRA. Judge Henderson strikes
these sections down as unconstitutional in their entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons,
joins Judge Henderson in a separate concurrence, but only with respect to those party
activities set forth in Subsections (i), (ii), and (iv) of Section 301(20)(A). As to Section
301(20)(A)(iii), Judge Leon upholds the constitutionality of Congress’s prohibition on state
and local parties from spending nonfederal funds for communications that promote, oppose,
attack or support a specific federal candidate. In a separate opinion, Judge Kollar Kotelly
finds Section 323(b) constitutional and concurs with Judge Leon’s discussion of Section 301
Section 323(d) prohibits national, state, and local parties from soliciting funds for, or
making donations, to § 501(c) organizations that make expenditures, or disbursements, in
connection with federal elections, or to § 527 national organizations. Judge Henderson
strikes this section down as unconstitutional in its entirety. Judge Leon, for different reasons,
joins in that conclusion in a separate concurrence. Judge Kollar-Kotelly files a separate
dissent in which she finds the entire section constitutional.
Section 323(e) prohibits, but for certain enumerated exceptions, federal officeholders
and candidates from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending, nonfederal
money in connection with any local, state, or federal election. Judge Henderson and Judge
Kollar-Kotelly, for different reasons, in separate opinions uphold the constitutionality of this
section in its entirety. Judge Leon concurs with respect to the restriction on federal
officeholders and candidates receiving, directing, transferring or spending any nonfederal
funds in connection with any federal or state election, but files a separate dissent with regard
to any prohibitions on a federal candidate, or officeholder, from soliciting funds for the
national parties.
Section 323(f) prohibits state officeholders and candidates from using nonfederal
funds for public communications that refer to a clearly identified candidate for federal office
and that promote, oppose, attack, or support a candidate for this office. Judge Leon upholds
this section in its entirety. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs with Judge Leon’s opinion. Judge
Henderson, dissents and finds the entire section unconstitutional.
B. Title II
Section 201 of BCRA sets forth a primary, and ?backup? definition, of an
?electioneering communication? (i.e., so-called ?issue ads?). In addition, it sets forth certain
disclosure requirements for those who fund these electioneering communications. Judge
Henderson strikes down both the primary and backup definition as unconstitutional. Judge
Leon, for different reasons, concurs in her judgment with respect to the primary definition.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly dissents and upholds the primary definition as constitutional as
discussed in her separate opinion. With respect to the backup definition, Judge Leon, who
writes a separate opinion, upholds its constitutionality with its final clause severed. Judge
Kollar-Kotelly, as expressed in her opinion, concurs in that conclusion solely as an
alternative to this Court’s finding that the primary definition is unconstitutional. Finally,
with regard to Section 201’s disclosure requirements, Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon,
for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, uphold their constitutionality with one
exception. Judge Henderson strikes down the disclosures requirements in a separate dissent.
Section 202 provides that disbursements by persons for electioneering
communications, or contracts to purchase the same, that are coordinated with either a federal
candidate or a candidate committee, or a political party committee will be treated as
contributions to that candidate’s campaign or political party committee. Judge Kollar-
Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, find this section
constitutional. Judge Henderson, in a separate dissent concludes that this Section is
unconstitutionally overbroad.
Section 203 of Title II prohibits labor unions, corporations and national banks from
using money from their general treasury to fund ?electioneering communications,? as defined
by Section 201. Instead, under Section 203, such communications must be paid from a
separately segregated fund (?SSF?). Section 203 also includes an exception from the SSF
requirement for certain nonprofit corporations (i.e., the ?Snowe-Jeffords exception?). Judge
Kollar-Kotelly upholds this section as constitutional. Judge Leon joins Judge Kollar-
Kotelly’s opinion upholding the constitutionality of this section as it applies to the backup
definition in Section 201. Judge Henderson strikes down this Section as unconstitutional in
its entirety. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon additionally uphold the disclosure and SSF
requirements as well as the Snowe-Jeffords exemption provision for certain nonprofit
corporations organized under Sections 501(c)(4) and 527 of the Internal Revenue Code in
their respective opinions.
Section 204 (?The Wellstone Amendment?), in effect, withdraws the Snowe-Jeffords
exception of Section 203. Judge Henderson strikes down Section 204 in its entirety. Judge
Leon concurs in her result as it applies to MCFL exempt organizations only. As to nonprofit
corporations that do not qualify for the MCFL exemption, Judge Leon concurs with Judge
Kollar-Kotelly’s conclusion, but for different reasons, in upholding Section 204 as it applies
to non MCFL organizations.
Section 212 provides certain reporting requirements for independent expenditures.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion,
conclude that challenge to this provision is not ripe for review, and therefore hold that the
Court does not have jurisdiction to resolve the plaintiffs’ challenges at this time. Judge
Henderson dissents from this view and finds Section 212 unconstitutional in its entirety.
Section 213 requires national parties, in essence, to choose between making
coordinated expenditures under the Party Expenditures Provision or unlimited independent
expenditures on behalf of their federal candidates. All three judges concur that this section
is unconstitutional. Judge Henderson’s opinion includes a discussion of her separate reasons.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs in Judge Leon’s separate opinion on this section.
Section 214 addresses coordinated expenditures paid for by persons other than party
committees and candidate committees. Section 214 repeals the current FEC regulations on
coordinated expenditures, and directs the FEC to promulgate new regulations that do not
require ?an agreement or formal collaboration to establish coordination.? Judge Kollar-
Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set forth in the per curiam opinion, find that the
plaintiffs’ challenge under Section 214(b) and Section 214(c) is nonjusticiable and the Court
therefore lacks jurisdiction to consider their challenge. As to Sections 214(a) and 214(d),
however, they find those sections constitutional for the reasons set forth in the per curiam
opinion. Judge Henderson dissents, finding the Section unconstitutional in its entirety.
C. Title III and V
Sections 304, 316, & 319, collectively known as the ?Millionaire Provisions,? allow
opponents of self-financed candidates, and in certain circumstances, to raise money in larger
increments and accept unlimited coordinated party expenditures. All three judges conclude,
for the reasons set forth in Judge Henderson’s opinion, that this Court lacks standing to
entertain challenges to these provisions.
Section 305 denies a candidate the ?lowest unit charge? for broadcast advertisements
on radio and television unless the candidate promises not to refer to another candidate in his
or her advertisements. For the reasons set forth in Judge Henderson’s opinion, all three
judges conclude that this Court lacks standing to entertain the plaintiffs’ challenge at this
As explained in Judge Henderson’s opinion, the Court similarly finds that the
plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge Section 307, which increases and indexes
contribution limits.
Section 311 establishes certain disclosure requirements for the sponsors of
electioneering communications. Judge Kollar-Kotelly and Judge Leon, for the reasons set
forth in the per curiam opinion, uphold this provision as constitutional. Judge Henderson,
dissents, and finds this section unconstitutional for the reasons set forth in her opinion.
Section 318 prohibits donations by minors to federal candidates, or to a committee of
a political party. All three judges agree that this section is unconstitutional. Each judge
writes a separate concurrence setting forth his/her reasoning as to this section.
Section 504 requires broadcast licenses to collect and disclose records of any request
to purchase broadcast time for communications that ?is made by or on behalf of a legally
qualified candidate for public office? or that relates ?to any political matter of national
importance,? including communications relating to ?a legally qualified candidate,? ?any
election to federal office,? and ?a national legislative issue of public importance.? Judge
Henderson finds this section unconstitutional. Judge Leon and Judge Kollar-Kotelly, concur
in that result, but not in her reasoning. Judge Kollar-Kotelly concurs in Judge Leon’s
separate opinion on this section.